A winning exhortation, earnest in its underpinnings at least, to be the change.

A toy robot from the past wages peace in a dystopian future.

If ever an AI “programmed to spread kindness, friendship, and good vibes” faced a tough challenge it would be the Zones—a barren, Mad Max–style landscape dotted with rocks and ruins, where feuding overlords Lord Bonkers and Papa Mayhem are gearing up for war while scattered “dirt-folk” struggle for survival. But Fred turns out to be tougher than his generic child’s body and blandly cheery expression would suggest. In fact, from the moment he crawls out of the rubble of a former toy store, he begins working changes on everyone he encounters: “Wow! I really like your helmet! It’s super neat!” Teaching others how to do high-fives and rolling out upbeat stickers from a fingertip dispenser as he goes, Fred weathers scorn, slime, and worse to make friends, reunite long-separated siblings, and show even fierce rivals a way to peace and forgiveness (“Sorry I bonked you.” “Eh, it happens”) before, in the cartoon-style illustrations, literally striding off into the sunset in search of others who need to hear his message. For readers who do get it, Rex closes with a savvy six-step plan for making new friends. Beneath his dorky eyeglasses and tuft of blue hair, Fred’s moon face is light skinned; the heavily armored supporting cast sports a variety of hues from light brown to bluish gray.

A winning exhortation, earnest in its underpinnings at least, to be the change. (Graphic science fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-20632-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022


A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape.

In mid-19th-century Nevada, a colt named Sky grows up to lead his band of wild horses.

Parry’s moving story follows the pattern of her recent animal tales, A Wolf Called Wander (2019) and A Whale of the Wild (2020), chronicling a wild animal’s life in the first person, imagining its point of view, and detailing and appreciating the natural world it inhabits. As Sky grows from wobbly newborn to leader of his family, he faces more than the usual challenges for colts who must fight their stallions or leave their herds when they are grown up. Fagan’s appealing black-and-white illustrations help readers envision this survival story. Sky’s adventures include forced service with the Pony Express; being befriended by an enslaved Paiute boy; escaping to find his now-captured band; and helping them escape the silver miners who’d destroyed their world. Animal lovers will applaud his ingenuity and stubbornness. Although Sky’s band has suffered serious injuries (his mother is blind), he and Storm, a mare who was his childhood companion, lead them toward safety in a new wilderness. The writer’s admiration for these wild horses and her concerns about human destruction of their environment come through even more clearly in a series of concluding expository essays discussing the wild horses, the Indigenous Americans, the natural history of the Great Basin, silver mining, and the Pony Express.

A feel-good tale of a clever and determined stallion set against a well-developed landscape. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 7-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2023

ISBN: 9780062995957

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


From the Captain Underpants series , Vol. 11

Dizzyingly silly.

The famous superhero returns to fight another villain with all the trademark wit and humor the series is known for.

Despite the title, Captain Underpants is bizarrely absent from most of this adventure. His school-age companions, George and Harold, maintain most of the spotlight. The creative chums fool around with time travel and several wacky inventions before coming upon the evil Turbo Toilet 2000, making its return for vengeance after sitting out a few of the previous books. When the good Captain shows up to save the day, he brings with him dynamic action and wordplay that meet the series’ standards. The Captain Underpants saga maintains its charm even into this, the 11th volume. The epic is filled to the brim with sight gags, toilet humor, flip-o-ramas and anarchic glee. Holding all this nonsense together is the author’s good-natured sense of harmless fun. The humor is never gross or over-the-top, just loud and innocuous. Adults may roll their eyes here and there, but youngsters will eat this up just as quickly as they devoured every other Underpants episode.

Dizzyingly silly. (Humor. 8-10)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-50490-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2014

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